Leading Customer Excellence
Sometimes common themes emerge which run through the work you are doing. At the moment, there seems to be a deep need for engagement, for resilience and excellence in customer service.
Perhaps they all stem from the same place – the environment that business exists in is tough – there are competitors, the customer has high expectations and the landscape is often changing through technology, regulatory change or economic pressure.
We know that customers have access to unlimited information, often an overwhelming range of options and know their ‘power’ in dealing with organisations. This makes the point of customer interface critical – we have to provide an excellence in experience which allows them to remain engaged and want to be our customer.
How do we, as leaders, help our front line people consistently deliver great customer service? This is one of the things I have been working with a number of clients on recently. The simple answer is that the approach you take depends a lot upon what you do, but some basic principles can be readily customised to any customer service engagement:
Is customer service excellence possible in your organisation?
Many organisations demand great customer service, but have processes, structures and practices which get in the way. When it is more important for a customer service person to fill in the ‘pink form’, impress a boss or hit certain stats, you can almost guarantee that the customer is coming last.
Building a culture where customer service is possible is a powerful first step. I love the expression “you are either serving the customer, or serving the person who is serving the customer”. That is, an outward looking, customer-first approach is what leads to customer service excellence.
What would your organigram look like if the customer was put at the top?
Do you know what great customer service would look like for your organisation?
If we consider all the touchpoints of the organisation, are they ALL delivering a great customer experience? Every time someone comes into contact with your business, its people or its brand, the customer is having their ‘experience’ with you added to – or detracted from. As you consider how a customer flows through all of your touch points, have you established what great customer experience would mean at each point?
Research shows that customers seek consistency, certainty, competence and caring, how are you providing this at every touch point?
Do the front-line staff have the skills to deliver great customer service?
Customer service excellence relies on a mix of performance and cognitive skills in your customer-facing staff. It is their skills, and how they apply them, which will dramatically change the perceived experience of the customer. Skills such as engaging the customer, making them feel significant, competent and liked, managing difficult conversations, holding the company standards and values whilst working with the customer are all critical skills which can be taught and learned.
You customers engage with your people, and their skills matter. What skills are missing for your people to deliver customer service excellence?
Do they have the mindset to deliver great customer service?
Facing customers all day can be a difficult job – particularly when the interactions are complex and often challenging. Having a resilient mindset, being engaged and taking personal responsibility for how they show up in every conversation are all part of the mindset of a staff member who delivers great customer service experiences.
Often our staff can feel that they are ‘slaves’ to the customer, but true customer service excellence comes from a place of feeling empowered to act, rather than feeling forced and being coerced. If the mindset is one of powerlessness, imagine how this shows up in delivery of customer service.
Having strong support from management to remain in the right mindset is critical to make sure that customer service front line staff are supported to create true customer service excellence.
When you consider your organisation’s approach to customer:
- Do you provide true ‘customer service excellence’?
- How could you improve your culture, skills or mindset to make this more possible?
Working with organisations to create and enhance true ‘customer excellence’ at this level of granularity makes a real difference in above-the-line and below-the-line measures.
If you want to find out more, contact me and we can grab a cup of coffee and see what may be possible for you.